I went for my first “official” trail run back in April (of this year) and I have continued to run at least 3-4 times a week on various trails throughout Auckland since then.
I’ve never officially sought out a list outlining good trail etiquette because to me, it seems like common sense and it’s quite disheartening to see so many people ignoring simple things that keep themselves, other trail users and the environment safe – for instance, if you are going to yield to someone coming from the other direction move to the side with the bank DO NOT I repeat DO NOT move to side of the trail with the cliff edge! Just last week I had to grab someone who did just that loosing her footing in the process, let’s just say it’s lucky she was light …
Although you can probably find “official” trail etiquette lists online, I’m going to outline the obvious stuff that people seem to ignore ..
Thou shalt obey ALL trail signs
Especially those pesky ones that say, clean your shoes and spray with disinfectant. Those things are SOOO annoying right? Especially when your all excited to get out on the trail and be adventurous and shit and you have to stop and clean your shoes (after all, you only just got out of the car, how dirty can they be!) BUT wait, there’s more! You clean your shoes, hit the trail and are getting into your stride when you happen across yet another shoe cleaning station. Honestly, you cleaned your shoes at the beginning of the trail (well at least I hope you did), so why must do we then have to it all over again ..?
Yes, yes, I know it’s annoying as being hungry and having no food BUT have you thought about how adventurous your trail experience would be if all of the trees go bye bye?
Oh and by the way, when all of the signs clearly states NO dogs – it means NO dogs. It does not mean NO dogs except yours because it’s only wee (on a lead, special or whatever other excuse you can come up with). Also just because I may smile at your dog it doesn’t mean that I don’t think you’re a HUGE illiterate douchebag ..
Thou shalt take out whatever thou took in
And on that note – if you happen upon rubbish that some other less responsible person thought was OK to leave on the trail TAKE THAT HOME TOO! (Or at least to the nearest rubbish bin).
Thou shalt not stray
Stick to the designated trail, this not only protects the surrounding habitat but ensures our environmental footprint does not continue to increase with the continual creation of “unmarked social trails”, which are usually formed by people bush whacking around obstacles (like mud or fallen trees). When multiple trails exist use the most worn one.
Remaining on the trail also means not cutting corners! Don’t go straight up or down a hillside instead of following the switchbacks.
Thou shalt try hard not to scare the living daylights out of people
I will admit I was guilty of this the other night, although to be fair I’m not the most light footed of runner so most people can hear me coming from a mile away (especially as my thunderous footsteps are usually combined with my audibly gasping for air), but as I came up behind a couple of hikers the other night the lady at the back nearly jumped out of her skin. She told me off for being too quiet and from the way she talked to me I decided that she used to be a teacher or a nun ..
Treat others as you wish to be treated
A smile, nod, wave or friendly hello goes a long way to making people you are sharing a trail with feel comfortable (especially those of us who routinely run alone). Also let’s remember our manners people, if someone yields, the words you are looking for are “thank you”.
Generally speaking the person going up the hill will get out of the way of the person go down – think of them as a rolling rock, how easy do you think it would be to stop a rock? .. (and in my case a rock with a bung knee) 😉
Oh and because you may have missed this stellar piece of advice earlier in my blog post, if you are going to stand aside to let someone pass, move to the side of the trail that is NOT on the edge of a cliff .. safety first people!
Till next time, be kind and considerate out there.